Council Preview

By John Swartz

Orillia council has two meetings Monday, a planning meeting at 2 p.m. (recorded, video available later) and it’s first regular meeting of 2021. Both have a items with issues of importance.

Notable for the regular meeting is a notice of motion from councillor Jay Fallis regarding a development proposed in Rama Township. He’s asking council to have the City write the province’s minister of municipal affairs and housing to reject an application for a minister’s zoning order to allow a huge housing development called Harbour Village at The Narrows.

Harbour Village at The Narrows

These zoning orders have been used of late to get around environment issues and the development in question involves wetlands and is on the shore of Lake Couchiching. It is also in close proximity to the fish weirs and many are concerned the development will have a negative effect on the weirs.

The developer, Zoran Cocov, also has two other related projects in the area, the Ramara Waterpark Resort and Ramara Landing, involved in a package. In total, the development would have 7 hotels an Olympic-size sports complex, 8 restaurants, an 8 story retirement residence, three 6 to 10 story condos and 252 townhouses.

Fallis wants the normal process for permitting developments of this scope followed so appropriate studies on environment impact and protections for the weirs are implemented.

Who Owns This Land?

An application for re-zoning property at 80 Victoria Street to allow conversion of ground floor commercial space to residential hit a snag related to access to parking spaces. There is a small piece of land in the middle of the block which all the commercial establishments surrounding use for parking. In fact it is indistinguishable from the other properties.

Staff initially wanted some resolution regarding access to the patch of land to guarantee access to parking spaces at the rear of the building. However the developer’s lawyer outlined three options to do so, each time concluding finding the owners may be a Sisyphean task since everyone concerned is dead, or likely dead, and no one has ever come forward to claim the land. In staff’s newest report they have come around to say:

Planning staff agree with Mr. Ewart’s opinion that it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to establish formal access rights. The proposal to convert ground floor commercial space to residential dwelling units will not worsen the existing situation, as the current land uses are similarly impacted by the same uncertain access rights.

Reading between the lines, it appears staff is willing to leave the access issue to another time and allow for the re-development to go ahead.

Chamber Of Commerce

The Orillia District Chamber of Commerce has forwarded a report (2021 Ontario Chamber of Commerce Policy Resolution Debates) to council asking for input. The over 200 page report has more than 100 areas the provincial chamber wants the government to take action on. It is likely the report will be forwarded to appropriate departments for comment and come back to council.

The chamber also is asking for relief of its payment to the City for operating the Port of Orillia last year. They note the agreement calls for a payment of more than $41 thousand, but because of the extraordinary nature of the boating season last year they operated at a loss of more than $8 thousand. They would like the payment forgiven.

The chamber also has another item asking the City amend the agreement in three areas. They would like the ability to convert 40 slips to seasonal rentals from daily. They would also like to have the ability to manage parking in the lot adjacent in order to restrict parking to those using the docking facilities. Third, they would like the ability to sell the docking formerly used by the Island Princess and would like to have more clarity in the agreement if they have the ability to sell dock space between the Waterfront Center and the Island Princess dock to water taxis, fishing charters and Lake Country Airways.

The Final Word

Adopting the report from last week’s committee meeting means those decisions area formalized. In that report, there is authorization to sell 5 lots in the Horne Business Park. The tree by-law was adopted last week with a couple changes. The size of tree protected from removal will be 25 cm in diameter or greater, and if a permit to do so is issued, based on an arborist report, a replacement tree be planted or fee charged if one cannot be replanted on the subject property. However, it also authorizes the environmental advisory committee to have public consultations on a new fee schedule and conduct an online survey regarding the new by-law in its entirety This means changes are not in effect until EAC reports back to council.

Council also added to the request to go ahead with designs for the Terry Fox Circle. They requested one of the three proposals include leaving it open to vehicle traffic with accessible parking and a drop-off space near the beach.

Council also approved councillor Fallis’s request for the feasibility of changing the coat of arms outlined in a previous SUNonline/Orillia story. There is a follow up story being prepared.

Motions and by-laws to advance development at 12 Fittons Road for a condo development and for the Grape Island and Hunter docks ongoing saga are also on the agenda.

Planning Meeting

The planning meeting is about developments at three locations – 1382 Wilson Point Road, 246 Mississaga Street West and 570 Laclie Street. The latter is for a 7 story apartment building and the developer and other objectors to the project have asked for a deferral until public meetings can be held in person rather than virtually.

The regular council meeting is a video conference and the chamber is closed to the public. The public can watch it live on Rogers TV.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia; Images Supplied)


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